ARTIST: Neil Young
TITLE: Tonight’s the Night
YEAR RELEASED: 1975
CHART ACTION: #25
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Tonight’s the Night, Come on Baby Let’s Go downtown, Roll Another Number (For the Road)
LINEUP: Neil Young, Ben Keith, Nils Lofgren, Billy Talbot, Ralph Molina. A live cut featured Danny Whitte and Jack Nitzsche. Tim Drummond and Kenny Buttrey were on a track.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A dark album about the despair that emanated from overdose deaths of two of Young’s close friends.
SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Danny Whitten was a great musician and friend. He worked with Young in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, but he couldn’t stay off of smack and he died. Bruce Berry was a roadie and another close friend who also died from heroin. Young poured his grief into this album, recording it in late 1973 with other close friends as an elegy and eulogy.
It’s a loose, raw record. You can hear the frayed emotions and tension in the playing and singing. It’s not raucous, or loud. It sounds like a wake, which in a sense it was. After the success of Harvest, Young went dark, and that fueled his art.
Using guitar, piano, steel guitar, bass and drums, Young and his assembled friends made a statement. It should be required listening for anyone in pain and grief.
NOTES & MINUTIAE: One track, “Come On Baby, Let’s Go Downtown” was recorded live with Whitten on guitar. It later showed up on a concert recording from Young’s archives.
IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. There is a version that’s even rawer and more gut wrenching that they may release later.
GRADE: A+: Listen to this alone on a Saturday night when you’re alone and sad. It’s an album that speaks to you one on one.